Pope Francis has closed this Sunday morning the historic summit on abuses of minors in the Vatican. Weeks ago he warned that expectations were swollen. And he has confirmed it. The Pope's speech, after a long Mass in the Sala Regia of the papal palace, was the culmination of four days of brainstorming among 190 religious leaders to close the wound of sexual abuse of minors for which the Church bleeds. The most optimistic expected ads. "Concrete and effective measures", as he himself pointed out that it was necessary to take at the beginning of the appointment. Also the assumption of some of the most resounding proposals that victims have been claiming for years. But nothing came of that. The Pope dedicated the first part of his speech to place the problem of abuse also outside the Church and to distribute the blame by citing statistics of all fur. It was difficult for him to announce big measures a few hours after the end of the debates. But he missed the concretion that he himself had demanded and a greater centrality of the victims, deeply disappointed after listening to him.
There will be changes. The summit, celebrated with an unusual transparency in the Vatican, and the valuable interventions of heavyweights of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, such as the cardinal and archbishop of Munich, Reinhard Marx – admitted the destruction of archives and demanded the end of the papal secret -; the archbishop of Malta, Charles Scicluna, or the Mexican journalist Valentina Alazraki, who stood firm to the bishops, show the way. But the Pope gave the feeling of accepting the difficulty of imposing reforms on the bishops gathered there, attributed the problem to the devil and placed the plague in other areas outside the Church. "The first truth that emerges from the data available is that whoever commits the abuses are, above all, the parents, the relatives, the husbands of the girls, the coaches and the educators. In addition, according to Unicef data for 2017, referring to 28 countries, 9 out of 10 girls who have had forced sex declare that they have been victims of a person known or close to the family. " Unfortunately, he could not provide the abuse in the Church, because the Vatican, despite he knows them perfectly and they are in possession of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the FaithHe has not made them public.
Francisco did not propose changes in the legal order beyond the extension of the legal minimum age for marriage of women. Nor were there in his words news about the sentences or promises of the future. In fact, he quoted the speech to the curia last December for the most forceful part: "The Church will not tire of doing everything necessary to bring to justice anyone who has committed such crimes. The Church will never try to conceal or underestimate any case. " But he did not specify if that means imposing the obligation to transfer all cases to the ordinary courts, as the victims ask.
The main problem, all the experts and victims point out, is the negligence, intentional or not, of the bishops. And, above all, the way in which the Church acts to punish them: the famous rendering of accounts. That's why they were summoned to Rome these days. But they feel harassed by the press, as Alazraki explained, and no idea was heard about how to deal with an issue that in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the body that investigates all cases, has precisely placed. There was talk, however, of punishing the abusers.
The Pope and his advisors consider that the current canonical legislation – especially with the apostolic letter Eat a mother amorevole– it is already a sufficient tool to combat abuses and the cover-up of bishops. It is necessary, they maintain, to change the mentality of the prelates. "That is why the Church has grown in the awareness that we should not only try to limit the grave abuses with disciplinary measures and canonical and civil processes, but also face the phenomenon with determination both inside and outside the Church."
The Pope fixed, yes, the eight areas on which the Church will focus, especially the episcopal conferences, to combat the problem. The most concrete thing was the formation and psychological analysis of the future seminarians and the reinforcement of the lines of prevention in the episcopal conferences. "The application of parameters that have the value of standards and not only orientation. Rules! No abuse should ever be concealed or underestimated (as has been the practice in the past), because the cover-up of abuse favors the spreading of evil and adds an additional level of scandal. In a particular way, to develop a new and effective approach for prevention in all the institutions and environments of ecclesial activity ".
Francisco receives permanent harassment from the American ultras, also at the College of Cardinals, who point out to him to consent to the proliferation of cases of abuse due to a supposed closeness to the homosexual sector of the Vatican. Of them yes he remembered in his speech. "The objective of the Church will be to listen, protect, protect and care for abused, exploited and forgotten children, wherever they may be. The Church, in order to achieve this objective, must be above all the ideological polemics and journalistic policies that are often instrumentalized by various interests ".
1. The protection of minors. Change the mentality to combat the defensive-reactionary attitude of safeguarding the Church. "
2. Impeccable seriousness. The Church will not tire of doing everything necessary to bring to justice anyone who has committed such crimes and will never try to cover up or underestimate any case.
3. A true purification. Transform mistakes made into opportunities to eradicate this scourge and never fall into the trap of accusing others.
4. Training The requirement of the selection and training of candidates.
5. Reinforce and verify the guidelines of the Episcopal Conferences. Application of parameters that have the value of standards and not only of orientation, and that no abuse should ever be concealed or underestimated.
6. Accompany abused people. The Church has the duty to offer them all the necessary support, using experts in this field.
7. The digital world. The protection of minors must take into account new forms of sexual abuse. That in the Vatican juridical norms approved in 2010 – where the acquisition, retention or disclosure of pornographic material was added as new cases of crimes – the age under 14 years was increased.
8. Sex tourism The repressive judicial action is needed, but also the support and reinsertion projects of the victims of this criminal phenomenon.